Aiming to curb a lucratively malodorous phenomenon of trash smuggling from Israel into the West Bank, a new Environmental Protection Ministry unit is now on guard to enforce such illegal activity – for the first time in 46 years.
Beginning this week, the new Environment Ministry unit has been situated along border crossing areas in order to prevent the massive waste transfers, from which debris often ends up in pirate West Bank landfills. The trash filling these pirate landfills pollutes both the soil and the water in the area, with a complete disregard for the surrounding environment and residents of the region, the Environment Ministry stressed.
In addition to the pollution that seeps into the ground and water from pirate piles of trash, the region also faces a severe problem of air pollution as a result of smuggling. Israeli farmers often sell wood chips to middlemen interested in transporting them over the border, after which the recipients burn the wood chips into charcoal.
As a result, clouds of contaminated soot rise from the burning waste and harm the lives of residents in nearby urban areas – in Palestinian villages and even across the Green Line in Pardes Hanna, Binyamina and Zichron Yaakov, according to the Environment Ministry. However, because the trash burning occurs in Area B, Israel has no authority to stop the process, the ministry explained.
"This week we begin a struggle without compromise against the insufferable ease with which the territories beyond the Green Line have become a city of refuge for environmental offenders," said Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz. "These offenders pollute indiscriminately and only due to greed, while all of the pollutants return like a boomerang to the State of Israel through water sources, predominantly by way of streams, and through air pollution, predominantly by way of soot."
In the first stage of its activity, the Environmental Protection Ministry's new unit has appointed 10 inspectors who received training by both the ministry and by the Civil Administration, the ministry explained. Another three inspectors will join the unit in the next stage.
The inspectors are authorized to prevent the entrance of waste that has not received prior approval from the required government bodies, the ministry said. For example, the unit members will now be able to stop, delay and confiscate any illegal waste on its way to Judea and Samaria, as well as initiate legal proceedings against the offenders. Their responsibilities apply to all types of waste, including construction debris, agricultural waste, wood and hazardous materials, the ministry explained.
All activity of the new unit will occur in partnership with and under the supervision of the Civil Administration, the Environment Ministry said. Managing the unit will be environmental staff officer Beni Elbaz, the district manager for Judea and Samaria, Gaza and the border crossings.